January 8, 2002
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
22/2/2002SegaAppaloosa Interactive1$99.95

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Underwater landscapes are gorgeous.
When Ecco The Dolphin was released on the Megadrive in the early 90's it became an instant hit. The game offered a new spin on the platform genre and most importantly introduced gaming to a female audience who could relate to the lovable dolphin. While the Saturn failed in the market, it did teach Sega one important thing, people want updates to classic games and well known series'. Despite the fact that the Dreamcast died an early death games such as Sonic Adventure, Daytona USA Racing and Phantasy Star Online sold very well and generated a lot of interest. One other series that was updated was Ecco The Dolphin which has now, through Appaloosa Interactive, been ported to Playstation 2.

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It's possible to leave the water.
Ecco The Dolphin: Defender of the Future has an interesting story to back up the game. In the 30th century an evil force has struck Earth, and the harmony created by dolphins and humans is in mortal danger. The evil force ripped a hole in the space/time continuum, and one dolphin, Ecco, fell through into the past. His mission is to restore the former dolphin/human paradise, save the planet from self-destruction, and win back his future. To do this, Ecco must recover the stolen dolphin-power that has been scattered throughout time and space. The bottle nosed dolphin travels through mysterious and breathtaking underwater worlds filled with puzzles, friends, foes, and danger.

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Marine life is quite recognisable.
The games four main areas - Paradise Island, Man's Nightmare, Dolphin's Nightmare and Foe's Lair - are split up into 34 smaller levels which are populated with all manner of marine life including sharks, fish, jellyfish, whales and more. It's possible to interact and communicate with the other marine animals to help you complete the numerous tasks in each level in order to progress.

While the Dreamcast version of this game was quite solid, this Playstation 2 version has undergone some changes and upgrades. The biggest change is with the controls, which have been re-worked to be more fluid and intuitive. Ecco can now perform over 100 different tricks, twists and turns both above and below water level. Also new to the game is a compass and navigation system to help you progress through the levels with much more ease and less chance of getting lost.

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Landscapes have solid texturing.
The 34 varied underwater worlds are truly breathtaking. As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the level of detail is simply amazing, and the animation is equally impressive, if not more so. All of the underwater areas are high-resolution 3D and include some breathtaking lighting effects due to the rippling water surface above. In fact, the developers of Ecco The Dolphin have spent hours and hours studying videos and photographs of underwater environments to get the feel of the game just right, and they have succeeded.

It remains to be seen if this title will receive the amount attention that it deserves. It's not an easy game to categorise. It's really a 3D exploration game, but you will have just as much fun sitting back to the soothing music and underwater sounds and exploring the levels. We can expect Ecco The Dolphin: Defender of the Future to make a splash on Playstation 2 towards the end of January.